Seattle Points and Miles

I just spent the weekend in Seattle attending and presenting at Frequent Traveler University.  One of the interesting distinctions of this location is that Seattle has long been CVS-free and so locals have been unable to take advantage of the previously easy trick of buying Vanilla Reload cards with credit cards to load Bluebird and then pay bills.  Now that CVS has gone cash-only, some of the content of the conference became more applicable to those who attended from nearby since we talked quite a bit about what to do without Vanilla Reloads (such as these suggestions).

My first talk was titled “Manufacturing Miles: Accelerate point-earnings through manufactured spend, category bonuses, and more.”  In that talk, I presented an overview of many of the techniques I write about in my blog everyday.  I talked about ways to combine credit card category bonuses with shopping portal points and with gift cards, etc., to earn 5 points per dollar, 10 points per dollar, 20 points per dollar, and more.  And, I talked about the basics of manufacturing spend (spending money with credit cards in ways that result in getting most or all of your money back).

The next session I participated in was titled “Where the game is Headed.”  I joined Gary from View from the Wing, Seth from Wandering Aramean, Ben from One Mile at a Time, and Randy Peterson who heads up Boarding Area, Inside Flyer Magazine, and much more.  We gave our opinions about which direction things are going, good and bad.  With regards to earning points and miles, I argued that earning significant numbers of miles through travel is mostly a dead sport already.  To earn lots of miles, its necessary to get into the credit card game.  Credit card signups continue, for now, to be the best way to earn points and miles quickly.  That said, we’re starting to see credit card companies experiment with new ways to incentivize consumers to use their cards for everyday spend (for example, please see “Amex’s EveryDay weapons in the category bonus war”).  These developments, I believe, will begin to shift point earning opportunities slightly away from credit card signup bonuses and more towards manufactured spend techniques.

FTU_SEA_Panel

The above photo comes courtesy of The Value Traveler via Twitter.  I’m the guy in the middle with the blurry hand.  Ben is on the other side of the podium. Seth is next to me, and Randy is next to Seth.  Gary is off-screen.

My final session was where I retold the “Million Mile Madness” story.  This was my quest in March 2013 to earn one million points and miles in a single month.  I think it makes a pretty neat story.  One of these days I hope to get around to putting the whole thing into e-book form.  Until then, I’ll happily retell the story at any frequent flyer event that will have me.

I don’t plan to distribute slides from my presentations.  I feel like they are incomplete and too easily misinterpreted without additional commentary.  I will, though, write a series of posts to cover the main thoughts and ideas. Maybe. We’ll see.

For those interested, I’m scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

  • #MileMadness Seminar and Celebration: May 10th, Charlotte (Sold Out)
  • FTU Advanced: September 26-28, Chicago (Sold Out)
  • Chicago Seminars: October 17-19, Chicago

If you’re planning to attend any of these, I’m looking forward to meeting you.  To everyone I met and talked with this past weekend, I truly enjoyed our conversations. Thank you!

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. Good morning Greg, do you think thee book idea is a little late now, being that some of the tricks have ended and are no longer available? As for the FTU event, I thought it was one of the best ones I’ve been to, out of 4. Did you get similar reactions from other attendees? Looking forward to seeing you at Chicago Seminars. If anyone is on the fence about going to a frequent traveler event, I would highly recommend going. When else do you get the opportunity to talk to several hundred other miles/points geeks at the same time?

  2. Regarding manufactured spend, is there some trick to buying through Giftcardmall? I tried to order visa GCs twice so far, both times I received an email that my order was cancelled.I used different payment methods both times.

    Once with a credit card, the next with and AMEX GC.

    • A common problem is if your name or address registered to your credit card (or gift card) don’t match exactly what you put into giftcardmall, then they’ll cancel the order. Before using an Amex card, call and ask them to register your name and address.

      • Yeah I remember you saying that at least with AMEX, the orders get cancelled about half of the time. Regarding registering the AMEX GC, I’ll try calling again, I couldn’t figure out how to register it with the phone number you explained, I’ll keep trying to get a person on the phone.

  3. Unrelated: Why can’t I comment on the quick deals site as easily as I can here? It there a way to add anonymous/guest posting? I don’t have any of the accounts needed to post. Thanks!

    • Quick Deals is currently hosted on Google’s Blogger platform whereas this blog is on Boarding Area / WordPress. We are looking to migrate Quick Deals onto Boarding Area and then the commenting options will be the same. Until then, can’t you create a junk gmail address?

  4. Much better event than McLean FTU……….smaller does help but the speakers just seemed more focused and probably smaller crowds helped make that possible………a few aha moments made the weekend extremely worthwhile and met a lot of great folks at this event! The session on where the industry is going was spot on…….all the speakers had great comments on helping form a picture of the future……….

  5. This was my first FTU and I really enjoyed it – thank you, Greg! Was in your session on Saturday and Amol’s session on Sunday but had to leave early to get back to Houston at a reasonable hour (midnight). Will attend September’s FTU Adv. in Chicago which will be a lot more convenient for us CST/EST folks 🙂

    Just started seriously getting into the miles game a year or so ago. I think once you get a hang of the airline/hotel award programs/rules/options/etc. (which is pretty overwhelming) and get a handle on best CCs to get (for bonuses/perks), the next step in a progression is learning to optimize spend (bonus categories, shopping portals, etc.) and learn MS techniques.

    P.S. Wish SPG hotels sold cards so I could earn 5-6X (SPG Amex + SPG Plat) 😛

  6. FTU was great for learning more about the burn. The earn I can get through your blog, the FT MS forum, etc.but the tips on burn were the most useful.

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